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Beardsley, Monroe C(urtis) (1915–1985)


Subject Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art » Aesthetics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405169226.2009.x


American philosopher of art and literary criticism. While having contributed importantly to the philosophy of action, Beardsley developed extensively and defended articulately the twentieth century's most influential aesthetic theory since John Dewey. Growing out of the desire to provide a philosophical foundation for the New Criticism as well as a sense that the arts have a distinctive social and cultural place, the body of Beardsley's aesthetic theory is supported at the heart by a conception of aesthetic experience or an experience having aesthetic character (whatever other character it may have too) and aesthetic value. The latter notion is to be understood in terms of the former, aesthetic value being, in Beardsley's most considered view, a value owing to a potentiality of artworks and other relevantly similar objects to afford experiences that, through cognition, characteristically involve “attention firmly fixed on a perceptual or intentional object; a feeling of freedom from concerns about matters outside that object; notable affect that is detached from practical ends; the sense of exercising powers of discovery; and integration of the self and of its experiences” (1981: lxii). Objects which have such value provide experiences with aesthetic character in virtue of their “formal unity and/or the [typically human as well as formal] regional qualities of a complex whole” (1982: ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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